By Tunde Asaju
Amidst the glaring state of insecurity under which thugs are no different from law officers in mufti, state-sponsored hoodlums were sent to intimidate Justice Mary Odili and to desecrate her abode. The civilian dictatorship in Nigeria has lost its rockers. If the government could hamstring a sitting Chief Justice into giving up his seat on yet to be proven charges of corruption, how does a sitting member of the bench fair on personal safety and the sanctity of their residence?
Evidently, Nigeria, under Muhammadu Buhari and other state actors have ceased to shock and awe. The scripts written and misanthropically utilized by the late maximum dictator, General Sani Abacha is being recycled by his mentee. Abacha carried out his acts under the cloak of his dark goggles while Buhari exposes a grin and gapped tooth. The reason behind Justice Odili’s ordeal would manifest with time especially coming just days to a crucial election Anambra that is very likely to end up at the apex court. Mary Odili is from Ezinifite.
Those asking Abubakar Malami to own up to the evident work of state actors are asking for the impossible. Malami would never own up to covert misdemeanour. The calls for his sack are unnecessary. Never ask a dog to sack its tail. Malami as an appointee believes he is not accountable to the nation. He stands or falls with Buhari, his master and thus far, the master is happy with his hire.
As far as Nigeria goes, Justice Odili should read the handwriting on the wall and take all necessary steps to secure herself and safeguard her personal integrity against state-sponsored thuggery.
Our country is fast becoming another Mexico. We have witnessed how individuals are expected to hire their own security because the state has abysmally failed in its responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of the nation and the sanctity of human life. We are gradually inching towards the fiefdom of Haiti now partitioned into the control of armed thugs leaving the state to exist only in name. That is our shameful lot.
How else does one explain a situation where public roads are not motorable, and public-spirited but jobless individuals have carved for themselves different portions that they mend with their own tools in exchange for tolls. Impregnable walled homes have become vaults meant to keep away hoodlums. Depending on what kind of security its owners could afford, security has become the responsibility of the citizen except they are in government or close to those in power.
Inside those homes, electricity and water supply are the responsibility of the owners. Yet the state shows up to collect ground rent and other taxes. Not too long ago, some state actors even rued the idea of taxing homes with boreholes and pollution taxes for those forced to use generating sets.
Everywhere you turn in our land, the level of state thuggery assaults your four senses and your psyche too. What shocks, even more, is how we excuse these things based either on our ethnoreligious proclivities or our closeness to the corruption that feeds and sustains the polity. If your friend is in power, they are infallible, ditto if they share the same region or religion.
If, as the Americans say, Justice Odili is a grown arse woman who should read the handwriting on the wall, what do we tell the children of the Makoko private primary school videoed doing their morning assembly in knee-deep rancid waters in the year 2021!
But wait for the icing on a poisonous cake. A statement from the HC (euphemism for Honorable Commissioner!) Education, Lagos Statepromptly denounced the video as an old one. As old as August 2021; sixty one years into Nigeria’s flag independence and 54 years into Lagos as a state! This dishonourable commissioner parries responsibility, (a modus vivendi for all unconscionable state actors). He explains that a religious group hoping to cash in on funds to build a better edifice staged the video.
He says that the waterlogged premises has since been demolished for reconstruction and promises to send his staff on inspection. Apparently, the dishonourable commissioner cannot break his weekend routine to make a personal evaluation. It belies his office and title.
*Watch the video of school pupils singing the Nigerian anthem here
This is how a commissioner for education in Lagos State in 2021 responds to the wanton abuse of children under his care. The Nigerian anthem calls on ‘compatriots’ to obey the call ‘to serve their fatherland with love and strength and faith’. It assaults the humanity of children to get there, a horrible foundation for building and teaching patriotism.
These children are made to start their day in septic waters while grown-arse Muhammadu Buhari, Sanwo-Olu and this commissioner are fed, housed, clothed and protected by the state. There is something absolutely wrong with a system that treats its future with levity and insouciance. There is something offensive, nay disheartening in seeing orphans made to pledge loyalty to a state that does not give a hoot about its welfare or existence. Those who obviously enjoyed their youthful years under better conditions have no excuses to sentence the upcoming generation to such a level of neglect and abuse.
We are citizens of states that abandon us from conception, maltreat us into adulthood and abuse our psyche through our existence. To cap it all, that state expects us to pay taxes and act like zombies that hearken to the beck and call of its masters.
Here is a regime that has spent billions on school feeding projects by Bluetooth. Makoko orphans and orphans all over Nigeria deserve better. They and others learning under trees and using blocks as seats or desks or having to dodge raindrops under dilapidated buildings deserve better.
How could we as adults watch idly by as this system perpetuates this kind of abuse because we have sold our souls to ‘dibo koo sebe’ type of stomach infrastructure during elections in the 21st Century? The fault is not in the proprietors of these schools, it is in the states that fail to provide free quality and standardized education for children up to senior secondary level. Nigeria has no excuse. Lagos has no excuse. The absence of quality schools paves the way for individuals fed on the diet of prosperity preaching to prey on the lacuna created by state failure. Education to secondary level should be a justiciable right of every Nigerian child.
We have lost it as the NYSC now demands prospective corps members to get ready to pay ransom for prospective kidnappers. No child should be forced to serve Nigeria for any reason except they want to. Nigeria owes them nothing. Most parents paid their way through great deprivation to get them a better quality of education than the state cares to offer. Nothing should be compulsory for Nigerian youths until the state rises up to its responsibilities towards them. The state should stop reaping where it did not sow.
Nigerians should stop making excuses for the failure of leadership. The optics of children knee-deep in a pool of septic water, singing and pledging to serve an unconscionable state with heart and might is unpleasant to the mind. Nigerian children deserve better induction to patriotism.